Harbouring a deformed paw caused by a run-in with a vehicle as a young puppy, Joey came to the Whistler Animals Galore Society (WAG) in March this year and immediately stole the hearts of the staff, volunteers, and eventually the entire town.
The eight-month-old Husky-Shepherd cross was not about to let life slow him down and everyone who met him was touched by his amazing energy and happy-go-lucky spirit.
Kate Kozak, director of development and community initiatives at WAG explains that when Joey arrived at the shelter, it was evident that surgery would be required on his paw – an expense undertaking – which led WAG to decide to host a fundraiser for him.
Entitled Raising Dough for Joey, WAG teamed up with Creekbread on March 27 to raise money for the surgery and the event was a smash hit, said Kozak.
“It was packed, there were lineups out the door and we raised just over $2,000 for Joey.”
Following the fundraiser, veterinarian Dr. David Lane from Coast Mountain Vet looked at his paw again after it started healing and it turned out it was healing much better than expected. Lane suggested holding off on the surgery and then based on further observations, the decision to cancel the surgery was eventually made. Kozak said the money raised was put into an account at Coast Mountain Vet to draw on for his medical needs, which includes arthritis in his other paw.
“From that point on he was in the shelter,” recalled Kozak. “He was extremely energetic and fun-loving and considering the pain he must be in and what he’s been through, he didn’t seem to have any scars whatsoever, emotionally.”
In April a couple came in and volunteered to foster Joey until a suitable home could be found for him.
Jamie Kyle and Monique Joyce wanted to help him so he could get out and be a dog and start living his life, explained Kozak.
They ended up falling in love with him but had serious concerns about the medical costs that could be incurred. Kozak estimates that on average Joey could cost $1,500 per year, above and beyond general check-ups.
Meanwhile the WAG board, adoptions co-coordinator Lindsey Suckling and Kozak met to discuss ways to help promote his adoption.
After looking at different avenues and a blast on social media around town, eventually they realized they would have to send him to the SPCA in Victoria, knowing he would have a better chance of being adopted, but before that happened, the foster couple decided to adopt Joey.
“They said that they just couldn’t let him go. They really, really love him,” said Kozak.
Joyce says they love having Joey in their lives.
“Joey may seem imperfect due to his injuries, however he is the perfect companion for us. He brings so much joy to our lives and we will never regret adopting the ‘imperfect one.’”
Kozak added that the amount of love and support for Joey in Whistler is incredible, noting that when he participated in this year’s Canada Day pet parade, people recognized him and the cheers increased when he passed by.
And a lot of people have helped Joey out, says Kozak. In addition to WAG volunteers and Creekbread who donated a percentage of their sales, RTown posted his adoption poster for free, Britanny Crook, an Arc’teryx design team member created a boot for him enabling him to use his foot more, Coast Mountain Vet gave discounts and physiotherapist Cath Ivany took him on a swimming lesson.
Five months on and Joey is as happy as ever, reports Kozak. Although his paw and leg will never be normal, he can still run and play. He loves to go boating, is still learning to swim and went on his first camping trip last weekend.
“He’s really stolen the hearts of many people in Whistler,” said Kozak.